Daniel Arzani has already made history. At 19-years-old, this month he will become the youngest Socceroo to ever travel to a FIFA World Cup. But the teenager’s life could have been very different had he followed his father’s dream of becoming a neurosurgeon.
“He called us and when he told us I was crying, I was so proud and so happy,” Daniel’s mother, Sima Arzani, told ABC Radio following his son’s call-up.
Sima Arzani said she had made some unusual sacrifices to encourage her son’s prodigious footballing abilities. According to her, he always had a ball at his feet growing up.
“Always, my house is empty,” she laughed.
“I didn’t have any frames on the wall or anything because Daniel would always play soccer, always! I was chanting ‘Oh my god, you break this one!’
“He broke a lot of glasses,” Arzani’s father, John, interjects. “And a lot of dishes, costing me a lot of money.
“From the beginning it was his dream, Daniel was studying at a Sydney boy’s school, so when he had an interview with his school principal, he asked him ‘What would you like to achieve Daniel? What would you like to be when you grow older?’
“He said ‘I want to wear green and gold. My first ambition is to wear green and gold, second I’d like to be a neurosurgeon. Then the principal told him ‘It’s impossible to achieve both, you’re going to have to choose one.’
It appears Arzani made the right choice. The midfielder’s extravagant talents mean he has the wage-earning potential to not just pay back a few broken dishes, but earn a lot more than a neurosurgeon as well.
It will be heartening for Socceroos fans, however, to learn that despite Arzani’s admission that he would have played for Iran had they called him up for the World Cup before Australia, the 19-year-old’s initial dreams were not of money nor fame, but of playing for the Socceroos.
“I’m very glad that we have migrated to Australia,” his father said. “I love Australia, I have been to Australia before migrating and brining the kids here.
“I love the culture, the environment, everything – I love the warmness of the people. I love it.
“We owe something, I wish that Daniel will make Australia proud of himself, he will make the extended Australian family proud of himself too.”